We're scudding across the pristine blue waters of Pelorus Sound leaving the tourist hub of Havelock ('The Greenlip Mussel Capital of the World') in our wake, bound for Homewood Bay Lodge.
Forty-five minutes later we round a headland and there, sitting high on the pine-carpeted slopes of a secluded, sheltered inlet is our eye-catching home for the next two days. We soon discover this is the perfect getaway spot. There is no road access; the nearest dwelling is a dot on a hillside 11 kilometres away; and there are striking views of an ever-changing Pelorus Sound.
Owners Nori and Dallas first planted conifers — sustainably managed — on their 440-hectare property about 38 years ago and this forest provides a spectacular backdrop to the luxury, multi-storied Canadian red cedar and New Zealand timber lodge. They also fostered the native forest around the six kilometres of shoreline of their property including some trees thought to be 1000 years old.
If boat travel is not to your fancy then you can helicopter in. The helipad doubles as the croquet lawn but if you're feeling more energetic there is a good choice of easy to more demanding bush tracks to explore either by foot or mountain bike with musical accompaniment from tuis and bellbirds. You can cool off on the sea in a kayak or rowing boat.
Homewood is eco-friendly. Power is provided through a sophisticated solar panel system. The lodge water comes from a stream, filtered several times, treated in a ultra-violet plant before it flows through the taps, and is crystal clear and refreshing. There is good use of wood and natural fibres throughout the lodge. The menu is almost all home-grown.
Starvation is something you don't suffer from at Homewood. Nori is an outstanding cook. Wild venison (we enjoyed venison with a berry sauce) or wild pork from the forest are on offer together with local mussels, crayfish (lobster) or blue cod caught near the end of the jetty.
On our second day we added to the seafood bonanza by scalloping with friends at Ketu Bay, about 25 minutes by boat from Homewood and close to Cook Strait. The calm, pristine seas made for magnificent trawling. There is a limit of 50 scallops per person and with the catch safely in buckets of seawater we returned to Homewood just as the clouds rolled in. But before we could relax it was shucking time – there's no such thing as a free lunch! Or dinner!
Dinner was a seafood banquet served with a selection of award-winning Marlborough and Nelson wines — followed by giant marshmallows roasted over an open fire. A perfect ending to an energetic summer's day.
For more information, check out www.homewoodbaylodge.co.nz
TIP: Nori's favourite method of cooking scallops is to sauté them in a little butter for 30 seconds each side, then serve drizzled with a little extra hot melted butter. They're tender and luscious.